Openly gay members of the Boys Scouts of America will make history on Sunday (29 June) when they participate in the 44th Annual New York City Pride March.
Until last January, a member of the scouts could be booted from the organization for being gay. Openly gay adults are still banned from being leaders.
Active and former Boy Scouts and leaders will present the American flag during the opening ceremony then serve as Color Guard during the march of more than 14,000 people down Fifth Avenue.
‘That local Scouts will now be leading one of the world’s most iconic LGBT Pride events is a testament to both how far we’ve come and how far we have left to go in the pursuit of full equality,’ observed Seth Adam, Director of Communications at GLAAD.
Also marching will be 87-year-old David Knapp who was forced out of the BSA in 1993 after 55 years of service when it was discovered that he is gay.
He will be joined by former BSA Salt Lake City Scoutmaster Peter Brownstein who was kicked out of scouting after he and his Eagle Scout son delivered pizzas to same-sex couples waiting to marry in Utah.
The current scouts – along with Knapp and the Brownstein – will be joined by members of the Brooklyn Chapter of Scouts for Equality, an organization composed largely of BSA alumni who are dedicated to ending the organization’s ban on gay members and leaders.
Even though the national chapter still prohibits gay adults, the Greater New York Councils serves nearly 150,000 Scouts in New York City and is dedicated to full inclusion.
Stacey Sarnicola, Brooklyn chapter lead, Scouts for Equality, said there is still work to be done.
‘While the BSA voted last year to end the policy barring gay youth from participation, it has made no change in its membership policy regarding adults,’ she stated. ‘The Greater New York Councils’ inclusive policy is what gave me permission to allow my son to join the Boy Scouts. It’s what gives us permission to march, and it gives us hope for a BSA for all in the near future.’